In Superior Court: Attempted murder charge against North Troy stabber dropped

Jennifer Ahlquist, right, sits with her lawyer, Jill Jourdan, at her arraignment in March.  Ms. Ahlquist admitted stabbing her husband and on Thursday, December 5, received a sentence that did not include jail time.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Jennifer Ahlquist, right, sits with her lawyer, Jill Jourdan, at her arraignment in March. Ms. Ahlquist admitted stabbing her husband and on Thursday, December 5, received a sentence that did not include jail time. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle December 11, 2013

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Jennifer Ahlquist, who stabbed her husband after finding him at a 19-year-old’s house, will not do jail time.  Under the terms of a plea agreement, Ms. Ahlquist, 41, of North Troy, saw the most serious charge against her — attempted second degree murder — dismissed by the state.

She pled guilty to felony charges of first degree aggravated domestic assault with a weapon and unlawful trespass in an occupied residence, as well as to simple assault.

Sentencing for the aggravated assault charge was deferred for seven years and six months, said Judge Gregory Rainville, who presided Thursday, December 5, in the Orleans Criminal Division of Superior Court.  That means the charge will be expunged from Ms. Ahlquist’s record if she does not get into further legal trouble in that period.

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Dollar General builds new retail store in North Troy

Construction is underway on this site in North Troy, which will be the home of Vermont’s thirteenth Dollar General store. The 9,100-square foot store will provide jobs for between six and ten employees. The tentative completion date is October 24 with the store anticipated to open by the end of the month.
Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 9-12-2012

NORTH TROY — Dollar General confirmed this week that it will build a 9,100-square-foot store in North Troy.  The store is expected to open by the end of October.

“Seventy percent of our stores are located in smaller, rural communities with fewer than 20,000 people,” said Dollar General Communications Director Rebecca Sanders on Monday.  “While we do have stores in larger, urban and suburban areas, our focus has always been on meeting the needs of rural communities.  This store was just a great fit for us.”

Dollar General operates a dozen stores in Vermont, including one in Richford and another in Lyndonville.  When they open, the North Troy store will employ between six and ten people, Ms. Sanders said.  The exact number of employees will be determined by customer traffic.

The North Troy project is unique on several levels, Ms. Sanders said.  Most Dollar General stores are in leased buildings, but in North Troy the store will be custom built on Main Street.  The average Dollar General store is also a modest 7,200 square feet, but the North Troy store will measure 9,100 square feet.

The size of a store is typically related to the variety of merchandise it carries coupled with the store’s proximity to its competitors, Ms. Sanders said.  The geographic and demographic profile of the North Troy location indicated that a bigger store would be better able to serve its customer base.

Dollar General labels itself a “small-box retailer,” combining the buying power of 10,000 locations in 40 states while tailoring product lines to meet the needs of its customer base, Ms. Sanders said.  Shoppers can expect to see a wide variety of brand name goods at affordable prices, she said.

“Easy to navigate stores, low prices and convenient locations are what we strive for at Dollar General,” Ms. Sanders said.

Alan Bellis is the senior project manager at the Ohio-based Zaremba Group, the company responsible for construction on the project.  Mr. Bellis said construction is slated for completion on October 24, with the store opening the following weekend.

“It’s a pretty aggressive timeline but it can be done,” Mr. Bellis said.  “I wasn’t personally involved in the permitting process, but I would guess that this project has been in the works for the better part of a year.”

Ms. Sanders was unable to verify the construction schedule.

“I do know that we will make an effort to let people know about our grand opening when that time comes,” she said.  “We’re thrilled to be able to open this store and become a part of your community.  We hope that people will be as pumped up and excited about this new store as we are.”

Dollar General sells clothing, accessories, food, health and beauty products, household and outdoor products, baby items, school supplies, toys, and more.

contact Richard Creaser at

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Governor tours local high-tech businesses

Jordan Medley feeds a maple board into a saw at Appalachian Engineered Flooring in North Troy as Governor Shumlin looks on. Photos by Joseph Gresser

by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle August 1, 2012

Governor Peter Shumlin visited two new high tech businesses that are bringing much needed jobs to the Northeast Kingdom last week.

Both are companies that take advantage of high-tech production methods.  For one, Numia Medical Technology, a maker of infusion pumps used for administering medications in hospitals, that is not a startling discovery.

The use of precision technology at a forest products factory in North Troy, may be more of a surprise.

That plant, Appalachian Engineered Flooring, uses high technology to create top-of-the-line  tongue-and-groove hardwood flooring, according to company officials.

The Governor was welcomed, on his July 25 visit, by Appalachian’s president, Jean Leduc and the company’s 18 employees.  He asked how many had been unemployed before Appalachian opened earlier this year.

A couple of hands went up, and Mr. Shumlin appeared pleased.

He praised Mr. Leduc for opening his factory in North Troy.  Appalachian Engineered Flooring is the sister company to one Mr. Leduc already operates in Cowansville, Quebec.

“You could have settled anywhere,” the Governor said.  He added, Vermont can boast “the best workforce in the world in the Northeast Kingdom.”

“I promise to be a great partner as you grow, expand, create jobs and make money,” Mr. Shumlin said.

“This is what we intend to do,” Mr. Leduc replied.

He led the Governor and his entourage on a tour of the plant.  These included Kiersten Bourgeois, a senior project manager with the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development, an aide who snapped pictures of the Governor with workers and immediately sent them by e-mail, and his State Police bodyguard.

Inside, Mr. Leduc showed off the production line, through which eight-foot long pieces of wood are transformed into flooring.  The wood is, as far as possible, locally harvested, said Magella Levesque, the project manager for Appalachian.

The company makes its flooring from maple, red and white oak, birch and walnut, Mr. Levesque said.

While the raw material for most of the flooring arrives at the factory in the form of sawn lumber, the birch flooring is made from plywood.

Mr. Leduc explained that the only place he has been able to find the right quality of birch plywood is Russia.  He lifted a sheet for the Governor and explained that the grain of the white birch — in the layers of veneer that go into the plywood — are glued together at right angles.

“We are trying to develop a local product.  We’re close, but not enough,” Mr. Leduc told Mr. Shumlin.  “It has to be very stable.”

Nearby Richard Lamb got ready to feed maple boards into a saw that would slice it to the thickness of the final piece of flooring.  Before doing so, he measured its thickness with a set of calipers.

That is an indication of Appalachian’s drive for quality, said General Manager Robert Collette.

“Our objective is to be the best, not necessarily the biggest,” he said.  “We want to be the beacon for the industry.”

As an example, Mr. Collette said that his company only uses diamond-tipped cutting tools.

The wear experienced by carbide tips leads to less precise dimensions in the final piece of flooring, Mr. Collette said.  The cutting heads are changed on a regular schedule, he added, before they begin to show signs of wear.

Further down the production line, Mr. Collette pointed out a scanner that examines each piece of flooring produced by the plant.  It quickly grades the piece and marks where it ought to be cut.

A clear section of flooring will be marked by the machine as class 1, a slightly less perfect section will be designated as class 2 or antiqued floor, and anything below that is class 3.

Mr. Collette said the scanner can divide the flooring piece into a section as short as one foot or as long as 84 inches, thus maximizing the value of every piece of wood, while maintaining the quality of the final product.

The last step in production is performed by a trio of human inspectors.  A fourth quality control worker patrols the plant looking for any problems, Mr. Collette said.

Mr. Shumlin said his farewells and headed for Newport, where he paid a brief visit to the Pick and Shovel and to the Emory A. Hebard State Office Building before driving over to the old Vermont Teddy Bear factory on the banks of Lake Memphremagog.

There Numia’s employees were in a festive mood, waiting for the Governor to arrive.  Numia’s president Eric Flachbart had laid out refreshments to welcome Mr. Governor and a group of legislators, and representatives of organizations that helped in his company’s growth including the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) and the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA).

Numia designs and produces infusion pumps, the devices that drip medications into intravenous lines connected to hospitalized patients.

“We stand here today, because Eric came up here from Massachusetts and saw a better place to live,” Mr. Shumlin said.  He said that Mr. Flachbart originally expected to be the only employee of his company, but now has 35 workers and thinks he may be up to 50 within 18 months.

He added that Numia is bringing the Northeast Kingdom “one step closer to making sure no Kingdom kid who wants to stay here has to leave for lack of a job.”

Along with Appalachian flooring, Mr. Shumlin said Numia is bringing “a slow but steady improvement in the lives of the people of the Kingdom, creating jobs one job at a time.”

One of those jobs is held by Kaytlyn Darling, a Lyndonville native.  While leading a tour of the plant, Ms. Darling told how she was hired by Numia as temporary worker after she graduated from Lyndon State College in 2009.

She is currently the lead lab technician for the company.

Ms. Darling showed a small group of visitors into her domain, where several cream-colored boxes stood attached to the kind of upright stands normally seen in hospitals.

Each box had a screen and control buttons and each box was attached to a device into which a nurse might fit a hypodermic syringe.  The boxes can be programmed to administer continual doses of medication from the needle into an intravenous line, or to provide a measured dose at scheduled intervals, said Rolf Zuk, the company’s principal software engineer.

He said Numia has a patent on the very accurate motor that controls the dosage.  Another company wanted to license that technology for its own product.

After looking over the Newport operation the company asked Numia to take over other aspects of product development, until Numia was finally hired to see the project through to completion.

That process involves seeking approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Ms. Darling said.  That can be painfully slow, Mr. Zuk added saying that documentation was sent to the FDA in September and no decision has yet been made.

Ms. Darling pointed at a bookshelf that was filled with a dozen thick loose-leaf binders.  That, she said, is the paperwork that is required of manufacturers of medical devices.

The need to make safe products that can be used without error, is a big issue for Numia, Mr. Zuk said.  He said that a substantial portion of the price of a pump goes to pay for liability insurance.

Ms. Darling led the tour into a dimly lit room.  On one wall was a two-way mirror looking into what appeared to be a hospital room.  A moment’s glance showed that the patient was actually a medical mannequin.

Nurses and other medical professionals visit the room for instruction in how Numia’s products work, Ms. Darling said.  After a few days they return and operate the equipment without supervision as Numia workers look on from behind the mirror.

They note errors that can be corrected by better design and make changes to the pumps, Mr. Zuk said.

He said that one group of nurses tried to insert syringes backward.  The pumps were redesigned to make that impossible.

Another nurse was seen struggling to open another pump.  That machine was reengineered to require less force to open it.

Numia’s products have yet to take over the medical universe.  Mr. Flachbart said hospitals buy large amounts of pumps on a regular schedule.  The market is considerable, though.

While a small hospital like North Country in Newport may have an inventory of about 150 pumps, a large teaching hospital such as Massachusetts General in Boston, may have a fleet of 10,000, Mr. Flachbart said.

contact Joseph Gresser at

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